When buying a house it is always advisable to employ a licensed building inspector to provide information on the building condition.
Knowing what to budget for in respect of any repairs required in the coming years makes a lot of sense!
Finding Asbestos in a home can be quite alarming for some purchasers, yet it is quite common, especially for houses built several decades ago.
Approximately 67 countries world-wide have now banned the use of asbestos.
In New Zealand asbestos was used mainly in the construction industry over many decades.
Despite ceasing the production of asbestos-containing materials in this country back in the 1980s, Asbestos remains as a hazard in many buildings and homes that were constructed over many decades, even State houses in the 1930’s.
According to a report on behalf of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the PM’s Chief Science Advisor in April 2015,
the evidence suggested that if Asbestos containing materials were maintained in good condition, then they did not pose a health risk.
However, if repairing or removing the asbestos products, the deterioration of such would release asbestos fibres, which are known to be hazardous if inhaled.
It is understood to be quite hazardous to remove sprayed-on asbestos coatings, ceilings, or tile or vinyl flooring if proper procedures are not followed.
Exposure to asbestos is known to increase the risk of asbestos related diseases such as Mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer caused by inhaling or ingesting asbestos.
Tumours can form approximately 20 – 40 years after the initial exposure.
Asbestosis is also caused by exposure from breathing in the asbestos fibres, resulting in scarring in the lungs from breathing in asbestos fibres over a long time.
Most asbestos-containing materials used in New Zealand houses contain mainly chrysotile asbestos, which confers a lower risk of mesothelioma than other asbestos types.
WorkSafe NZ, has been investigating the testing and management of asbestos during repair work carried out in homes in Canterbury following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Read more about asbestos advice for households.
Asbestos fibres in very low concentrations also exist in the natural environment, and therefore some exposure is unavoidable.
There is no absolutely safe level of asbestos exposure, but like most risks, they need to be put in context, for instance like low-level radiation exposure during an aeroplane flight.
Or what about the body scanner at the airport?
Or wireless devices ( mobile phones) yet according to Wikipedia the World Health Organisation stated “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.
Read more here about quick facts about farmers and asbestos, and read more here for a Guide to asbestos in homes.
Maybe we should try not worrying about the past, but just live in the moment and be happy, yet well informed in order to manage risk.